I know, I know I said bacon and the picture is of sausages!
March already, when did that happen! So much for my resolution to try and post more on the blog. It’s not like I haven’t had anything to report, as we have kept ourselves busy and the house becomes more of a house everyday.
Still I’m writing this now so lets see if I ever push the publish button.
Despite the title it’s not a post about pigs, although they have in there own way contributed to the running of our little small holding (homestead) and that is essentially what this post is all about, the financial aspects of our new life.
In true Grand Designs fashion we have exceeded our original budget for the house and as we enter the final furlong and finish it off it is true to say that we are starting to have to make compromises in order that we finish at all, but then what is money for if not to spend?
Mind you as the zeros disappeared from our pot of money and it was no longer necessary to take of my shoes to work out what we have left, our minds became more focused on what we spent on a day to day basis and a year long spreadsheet offers some interesting insights.
The big picture shows that we now spend in a year what we used to earn in a month back in the UK! That includes pretty much everything from insurance to petrol, to electricity to food. Although to put this in perspective our total outgoings are roughly equivalent to the annual minimum wage for a single person in Poland.
Drilling down a bit further it’s hard to ignore that one months mortgage payment back in the UK now feeds us for an entire year! This includes all household sundries like toilet paper and toothpaste, not to mention the associated expenses of having a bundle of joy in the house and five dependant pets. I even put clothes in the category as we are managing quite well on western Europes discarded clothes, which end up for sale in the second hand shops of Poland. It’s hard to believe what gets thrown away.
Insurance remains the single biggest expense after food, but it is a necessary evil, especially the national health insurance which provides us with medical care should we need it. Malina receives free care until she is eighteen so at least we don’t have to worry about her for a while. Farm insurance is compulsory and house insurance provides a certain peace of mind, however car insurance when you have two vehicles is probably something we can cut down on in the future, once we have improved our road further and made it more car friendly!
Fuel hits the stats next as a sizable chunk of our annual budget, although thanks to the recent drop in prices and the less frequent trips to the builders merchant, I expect it to be further down the list this coming year.
The only other sizable chunk that goes out is for electricity, but our bill for the house is little more than it was for our flat and the only other purchased fuel that we use is bottled gas which is so unbelievably cheap that it hardly registers. Hard to believe that an 11Kg bottle of gas that I was selling at a garage in Jersey (my last job) for £60 can be purchased in Poland for less than £10. It makes you wonder who is making all the money?
Of course despite it been quite worrying that such disparity exists, between even European countries, it does work in our favour and it has enabled us to live a life that we could have only dreamed about when we were back in the UK. Any wonder that so many from the old Eastern block flock to the richer western nations to earn good money!
But as we do run out of money we have become more focused on how we will survive in the future and as ‘groceries’ are the single most expensive category of expenditure we are taking steps to produce more of our own food, increasing veg production and widening the range of animals we keep, including rabbits and, hopefully soon, sheep once again. Our goats should also increase in number if the village Billy did his job, which in turn provides us with milk. And with our relative success with pigs last year we will be setting aside a patch of land to be turned over again this year.
It’s worth noting at this point that, having added up the cost of producing our own food, it costs far less than buying it in, but only if you don’t account for your time. Once you add in time at even half of the current minimum wage (about £1.50, $2, €2 per hour) then you would be far better off going to the shops. Of course you never know what you are really buying at the shops and that’s the main reason we do what we do, we are in control of our food!
It is maybe because of this, and slowly changing attitudes in Poland, that we have started to generate some interest in our produce to purchase, and whilst it’s only on a very small scale at the moment we do manage to sell a few eggs and rabbits. Hopefully some of the vegetables will be added to this list once nature plays its hand and we have crops in abundance. We are also in the market to trade and we hope that last years bumper crop of oats will turn into a lamb or two in the near future. Does anybody have anything else to trade?
Gosia, practical as ever, probably holds our best hope of maintaining the lifestyle that we have by going into production of soaps. I can’t remember how it started but she has quickly developed a small trade in handmade soaps, creating or adapting existing recipes to make truly impressive bars of soap, bath bombs, hand creams and most recently shaving foam! I’m a little behind the curve on this one and have yet to develop the website and other marketing paraphernalia, but a few details can be found here and here or click the page link at the top of the page ‘Soaps for march 2015’
I can also say with confidence that we should be able to take paying guests in the not too distant future, but exactly when is hard to say. I’m only willing to commit to saying ‘this year’ so if you want to book for Chrismas 2016 you are welcome 🙂
Of course my biggest asset is my ability to speak English and whilst I only do a minimal amount of English conversation lessons, I’m sure it is something that I could expand upon, once the house is finished!
And if all else fails I still have my kidneys! (not the picture below, that’s for Pete 🙂